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Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: No fear


— I'm not sure if it is the warm ocean breeze in the night that makes me this way, the deep smell off the bonfires lining the coast of the ocean or the laughter that echoes throughout the valley on a Wednesday night that makes me this way.

I am not sure what makes me seize every moment of each summer day and night here in San Diego. But, I know that this attitude has not only brought me opportunity, but also helped me create my own opportunities.

Whether this opportunity was getting my dream summer internship or the rough draft introduction to a book I will write someday. There are both opportunities that have come to me from being fearless.

On one summer night in particular, my roommates and I needed dice to play a certain game. But, of course we could not find a pair.

In Craig, my neighbors were some of my closest friends and acquaintances. And it is a tradition in small towns such as Craig that when you see a new family unloading a moving truck on your block you bring them a baked good or simply wave hello from your driveway to theirs.

But, here in San Diego, the houses turn over so often due to vacationers and college students that by the time one builds up the courage to do so, the neighbor already has moved out. So, when we couldn't find dice I walked next door dressed up from a dinner earlier as if this neighbor has seen me grow through training wheels and Barbie stages.

He answered the door talking on the phone and preoccupied with either girl drama or guy talk.

" Hi, I am Mari Katherine Raftopoulos, your neighbor," I said shooting my hand out for a firm handshake.

"Hello, I am Franklin," He replied in a sort of shocked manner.

"Like neighbors ask one another for flour or eggs to make a batch of cookies instead of running to the store, I was wondering if you had a pair of dice?" I sincerely asked him.

" No, we don't I'm sorry," Franklin said.

I think for the first time in my life I felt socially awkward and really invading someone space. So I left with a timid goodbye and a shy smile and returned to my house diceless and confused.

That is until five minutes later when Franklin returned to the door with a pair of dice and an apology and stayed for the remainder of the night hanging out with all of us. Out of my fearlessness, I made a new friend who is a San Diego local and has given me the opportunity to explore the hidden taco joints, beaches and bike trails.

This just an example of how my fearless attitude has contributed to my eventful summer, so far.

Along with a posting on Craig's list with my roommate titled "Educated Cleaners" with the tagline, JKMK "Just Klean My Kasa," leave your house a mess and we will turn your house into a home, as well as a few babysitting jobs and summer basketball team camp refereeing jobs.

This summer away from home has left me missing the long days floating the river and the nights playing softball, but it has given me the freedom to be fearless.

It has given me the freedom to make something out of my passions. With this fearlessness, I know my small passions will help me reach a bigger dream.

It is easy to wait until tomorrow to sign up for a hip hop dance class, to run off the designated trail, to write a song, or to meet your neighbor.

But, the opportunity comes only when you do it today.


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